I have to admit up front that Black Friday grosses me out.
I remember when I first learned about Black Friday. I was about ten years old and thought it was preposterous that people would get up at 5 a.m. to go shopping.
Ha ha ha… sigh. 5 a.m. Who gets up at 5 a.m. anymore? Instead, stores are opening their doors at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving day! You know, in the evening when people are usually celebrating Thanksgiving with their families and friends, contemplating how grateful they are for health, life, blankets, yummy food.
I have watched over the years as stores have opened earlier and earlier and earlier, just to draw in more and more people. I even remember a year when someone died at Walmart as a result of unruly crowds. Yes, died! The absolute greed and violence that surface on Black Friday are distressing at best, but terrifying and disgusting at worst! And now they are encroaching on Thanksgiving Day itself, all for material goods.
It all results in mass hysteria that is the exact opposite of what we are supposedly so grateful for mere hours before, as well as at odds with the holiday for which we are meant to be shopping!
I’m sure there are many people who just want deals, and aren’t necessarily shopping for Christmas. However, traditionally, Christmas shopping is what Black Friday is supposed to support.
And the thing is, whether you subscribe to a specific religion or not, whether you believe in a higher power or not, Christmas is meant to celebrate peace, love, hope. It is meant to be a time of family and giving and appreciation. So whether you are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, or celebrating a beloved tradition, Christmas is not about tackling people just to get a deal. Christmas is not about shouting and pouncing and stressing.
And I think it’s about time we take back our holidays.
Instead of inhaling your Thanksgiving meal, savor it. Contemplate the flavors and who made it and who grew it and where it came from. Taste your food instead of simply consuming it.
Instead of making Thanksgiving all about food, really ponder what you are grateful for.
Instead of stressing about gifts and price tags and lines and crowds for Black Friday (or ever increasingly, Black Thanksgiving) sleep in. Or do a service project. Or start making homemade presents. Or spend the whole day decorating your house Buddy the Elf style and watch old Christmas movies with your friends and family and break out into a loud rendition of “White Christmas” just like the star you know you are. (I can say from experience that that is so much more fun than trample or be trampled.)
Instead of allowing the consumer-driven economy to inspire you, allow Charles Dickens to inspire you.
Instead of buying “back up” presents for neighbors who unexpectedly give you prezzies, express your gratitude and invite them in. Have a conversation like a real human being.
Instead of continuing heinous traditions you hate just for their status of tradition, create new traditions with your family. Have gingerbread house-building contests. See who makes the best snowball. Make absurd rules like, “Every time you hear ‘Merry Christmas’ you must run down the street like Jimmy Stewart yelling, ‘Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!'”
Instead of saying, “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over,” relish your holidays! Holidays are for celebration not stress!!! So celebrate them! Celebrate life!
Contrary to the lies told us by commercials and advertisements and societal pressures, we are not required to make our holiday season about money or stuff. We can take control of our holidays and make them what they want them to be. We can refocus our holiday lens away from the glamour and money and wrapping paper onto peace and love.